Monday, October 31, 2011

Nearly A Valediction, a poem by Marilyn Hacker.

Post 642 - Marilyn Hacker (born 1942) is an American poet, translator and critic. She is Professor of English at the City College of New York. Her books of poetry include Going Back to the River (1990), Love, Death, and the Changing of the Seasons (1986), and Presentation Piece (1974), which won the National Book Award and was also a Lamont Poetry Selection of the Academy of American Poets. Winter Numbers (1996), details the loss of many of her friends to AIDS and her own struggle with breast cancer, garnered a Lambda Literary Award and The Nation's Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize. In 2009, Hacker won the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for King of a Hundred Horsemen by Marie √Čtienne, which also garnered the first Robert Fagles Translation Prize from the National Poetry Series. In 2010, she received the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry.

 Nearly A Valediction by Marilyn Hacker.

 You happened to me. I was happened to
like an abandoned building by a bull-
dozer, like the van that missed my skull
happened a two-inch gash across my chin.
You were as deep down as I've ever been.
You were inside me like my pulse. A new-
born flailing toward maternal heartbeat through
the shock of cold and glare: when you were gone,
swaddled in strange air I was that alone again,
inventing life left after you.

 I don't want to remember you as
that four o'clock in the morning eight months long
after you happened to me like a wrong
number at midnight that blew up the phone
bill to an astronomical unknown
quantity in a foreign currency.
The U.S. dollar dived since you happened to me.
You've grown into your skin since then; you've grown
into the space you measure with someone
you can love back without a caveat.

 While I love somebody I learn to live
with through the downpulled winter days' routine
wakings and sleepings, half-and-half caffeine-
assisted mornings, laundry, stock-pots, dust-
balls in the hallway, lists instead of longing, trust
that what comes next comes after what came first.
She'll never be a story I make up.
You were the one I didn't know where to stop.
If I had blamed you, now I could forgive
you, but what made my cold hand, back in prox-
imity to your hair, your mouth, your mind,
want where it no way ought to be, defined
by where it was, and was and was until
the whole globed swelling liquefied and spilled
through one cheek's nap, a syllable, a tear,
was never blame, whatever I wished it were.
You were the weather in my neighborhood.
You were the epic in the episode.
You were the year poised on the equinox.

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